Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

Music Notes: 'Suburban Blues' tackles the confines of a hometown

Nowadays, it's hard to find songs that talk about the constraints of a small town. However, one song from last year managed to hook its target audience. To all of us Midwesterners out there, here is this week's "Music Notes": “Suburban Blues," one of the lead singles from The Aces' third studio album "I've Loved You For So Long."

Told from a queer perspective, it details the conflicting feelings of returning home and wanting to escape repression and conversion. Although its roaring pop sound is full of vicious guitar riffs and sped-up drum beats, the song is, to its core, dark and a mix of sonic feelings that only The Aces can achieve flawlessly. The imagery of the opening lyrics is representative of the dread of returning home. 

Told from the perspective of (presumably) a teenager, lead singer Cristal Ramirez sings, "Small town, I'm burnt out / On a drive back to my house / Same chain restaurants / Same mall and car wash," and you can hear the anxiety in her voice. A common occurrence for many queer individuals, the tension one experiences in a conservative environment comes to the forefront, allowing for the song to change in tone instantly.

This tone morphs into the next few introductory stanzas, which are, "I'm fine, I'm alright / I know how to blend in / They all seem so happy / What am I missing?" In this moment, the narrator, serving as a parallel to Ramirez's own life, lets us into their inner monologue. Wanting to suppress any signs of their sexuality because of societal norms and community expectations is a painful set of lines to hear. Yet, its intention adds to the overall depth of the song.

The chorus comes in full force following this introduction to the narrator and the setting, serving as the catalyst of the song. Breaking down the chorus, Ramirez first says, "Nobody knows that I'm dying inside / Nobody knows that I'm hating my life," a confession that finally comes to the surface.

Confessing their own suffering because of their identity and its implications in a conservative setting, another thing this song executes perfectly is the release of emotion. We hear Ramirez's vocals turn almost to pleads in the chorus, symbolizing the frustration and pain that come with wanting to find acceptance for who you are. This frustration and pain also manifests in the need to feel safe and loved, which the narrator doesn't feel at all.

The second half of the chorus connects back to the annoyances of living in a small town. Ramirez sings, "'Cause there's no way out / Of this sad town / So get used to / Suburban blues.“ The narrator believes she can never escape her hometown's emphasis on heteronormative standards. The lyrics can also be interpreted as feeling limited in your hometown, a feeling many teenagers feel on the brink of adulthood.

As listeners move on from the chorus, The Aces integrate moments from the past to strengthen the song. The narrator recalls being told not to feel attraction towards another woman, which she reflects on. Ramirez says, "Everything I love / I'm told I shouldn't touch / 'Cause good girls love Jesus / Not that girl from Phoenix," bringing religion into the reasoning behind this moment of repression. Including this traumatic memory proves that the little moments can affect one's struggles with one's identity.

"If I told you all this, would you listen? / I'm stuck in my own mental prison" is the cry for help that really cuts deep toward the end of "Suburban Blues." The band cuts back on heavy guitars and drums to bring Ramirez's voice to the forefront, a move that was smart in hindsight to showcase the impact of living in a smothering, traditional hometown on one's mental health. 

One of the band's most vulnerable songs to date, it's a telling tale of wanting to run away. Whether it be because you've outgrown your hometown because of its daily repetitiveness and annoyances, or because of its unrealistic and harmful conditions for how human beings should live their lives, "Suburban Blues" is a song any of The Aces' fan base can find solace in.


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH